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      Bay College West plans welding expansion

      Bay College West in Iron Mountain was awarded a grant to promote vocational education which they??ll use to expand their welding programs.

      ??Bay College is part of an eight college consortium that received a federal grant; a Trade Adjustment Act grant,?? said Bay College West Vice President, Patrick Kennedy. ??The portion we got is about $1.5 million and that's both for Bay West and the Escanaba campus.??

      That Trade Adjustment Act grant awarded over $400,000 of that $1.5 million to the Bay West campus to expand their vocational education programs, specifically in welding. On Tuesday, Congressman Dan Benishek was on campus to learn more about the expansion, which he says will benefit both high school and college students.

      ??We??ve lost the ability to provide technical education for our young people here though state and federal policies,?? Benishek said. ??The curriculums have changed such that kids don't have an opportunity to be exposed to many of these projects.??

      ??There is no welding facility here on our campus. We??re working with the Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District to offer classes using their facilities,?? Kennedy said.

      In fact, the vocational center in Kingsford is where the welding expansion will be taking place, and additional welding equipment will be purchased. Both college administrators and Congressman Benishek mentioned the new program will increase job creation in the Upper Peninsula, and even in Dickinson County. BOSS Snowplow in Iron Mountain says the welding program will benefit their company.

      ??A training program like they have is exactly what we're looking for,?? said Human Resources Manager, Dan Davis.

      BOSS relies heavily on well-trained welders to manufacture their signature plows. Currently, they employ about 670 people, and they're looking to expand even more.

      ??If I could find two dozen welders today, then they would get job offers. A lot of the people that we're going to have in the future, our growth opportunity, a lot of them are in welding,?? Davis said.